This week, Selina is an official observer of a free and open election. It’s an exercise in democracy that begins with some promise, then quickly devolves into a corrupt, chaotic hellscape full of liars, thieves, cheats, and dirt bags. If I paused each of these recaps to bask in the almost terrifying prescience of this series — as Julia Louis-Dreyfus herself said last year, Veep has evolved from a political satire to “a sobering documentary” — we would spend way too much time basking and not nearly enough time recapping. And they don’t pay me to bask. So, onward to Georgia!
While it would be extra prophetic of Veep to have constructed a plotline around a surprisingly gripping race in the state of Georgia, this election brings us to the Eurasian country of Georgia. “Democracy,” Selina says, soaking up the, ah, atmosphere. “What a horror show this is.”
Though you might think Selina is out here doing the whole democracy-spreading thing because she is a believer in democracy, she of course is just hoping “this international shit” will be great for her book. The trip brings the whole gang back together again: Gary, Richard, and a reservation-less Mike are with Selina; Ben and Kent are there with Jonah; and Minna, former prime minister of Finland and self-proclaimed best friend of Selina, is on hand to supervise Selina’s supervising and also make her insane. As Ben puts it, “It’s just like the good old days, except shittier in every conceivable way.”
Selina is just thrilled to see Jonah again. She expresses her joy like so: “I want to let you know that I will destroy you in ways that are so creative they will honor me for it at the Kennedy Center.” Jonah, who is about 1,274 feet taller than Selina, gets intimidated into walking backward onto a couch, so by the time Selina actually delivers her threat, she’s towering over him.
Selina is supposed to ensure the victory of Nikolai Genizde, a pure-of-heart poet-professor who was poisoned via sushi and now is covered with scaly scars (as Minna tells us, really, the scars are everywhere). He’s running against President Murman, a no-good, very-bad guy who tortures people and employs death squads. (For what it’s worth, he’s also supposed to be a great storyteller.) I love how casual Selina is about Murman’s human-rights violations, asking him gleefully, “Have you imprisoned any good novelists lately?” Murman is deeply unimpressed by Minna: “I was sorry to see that your forceful condemnation did not do more to stop the recent genocide in the Congo.” Selina, optimistically: “Maybe next genocide.”
Complicating matters, both of these men wind up offering Selina bribes — I mean, oh my God, of course they aren’t bribes! They’re donations to her presidential library! Accepting the money would not be a violation of American law, and as Kent informs us, “There is literally no Georgian law. And I’m using literally correctly.” Murman offers more money and so wins Selina’s support. But “Scab Calloway” has given Minna something she values even more than money: a torrid, very gross-sounding affair.
Minna thinks her honey has “the soul of a poet” — Selina: “That and a car with a sunroof could’ve bought you my virginity in ’83” — but it turns out that he’s a criminal just like all the rest. His shabby apartment and cozy-sweater attire is all for show. He offers Selina $15 million for the library. The next day, Murman is leading “by more votes than there are people in this country,” according to Kent. Selina’s reply: “This election is going down like Eleanor Roosevelt at Dinah Shore Weekend.” Oh, and Murman ups his offer to $20 million.
“They’re both crooks,” says Selina, ever the pragmatist. “What’s the difference?” Ben’s wise assessment: “Five million dollars.”
Minna wants to say the whole election is trash, but Selina wants to use some softer language — irregularities, not uncommon, etc. — and declare Murman the winner. As Selina tells her bestest friend Minna, “My concern is, I wonder if your judgment is being clouded by your feelings that are brought on by Nikolai’s lumpy poison cock.” Minna realizes that of course she must recuse herself, as she is in what Selina calls a “fuck fog.” And so, the election goes to Murman.
Until Murman gets arrested before his swearing-in and the Georgian dude who has been Selina’s guide this whole time becomes the president instead. Democracy!
(Sidenote: Early in the episode, Gary and Mike accidentally vote. If you didn’t pay attention to it before, I highly recommend going back to see Tony Hale’s silent, hilarious efforts to hide his green thumb from view.)
How’s Jonah doing on this trip? Well, he’s not exactly thrilled to be in Georgia. He wants to know why he couldn’t have gone on an international election-watching trip to Hawaii. Kent replies, “Hawaii is rightfully a monarchy and will be again.” Take it up with Jeff Sessions, you two. Showrunner David Mandel told us that Jonah would become “the Ted Cruz of Congress” this season, i.e. a pathologically unpopular, universally despised D.C. politician. To wit, the only person willing to hang out with Jonah is sentient teddy bear Richard, who puts on his tourist hat to accompany Jonah for what turns out to be a heavy-metal neo-Nazi concert.
Back on the homefront, Dan interviews scandal-struck Buddy and his beloved Amy on CBS This Morning. When Dan — or “Danny,” as Amy calls him to piss him off — asks these lovebirds how they’re handling the crisis, he rolls the video of Buddy’s drunk confrontation with the officer. Amy is holding Buddy’s hand and looks like she wants to jump into that ice hole with Minna’s son as she says, “I’m happiest when Buddy and I are on the couch eating popcorn watching Downton Abbey.”
At the end of the interview, Dan turns to the camera: “Full disclosure, Ms. Bruckheimer and I had a brief relationship when she was a much younger woman.” As soon as the cameras stop rolling, he also asks whom her favorite Downton Abbey character is. “I don’t know,” Amy says. “Abbey, I guess.”
Unsurprisingly, Amy has Buddy’s damage control under control: “You have to walk 25 miles for breast cancer and attend a WNBA game, but I think you’ll be okay.” Unfortunately, Buddy heard Amy’s (obviously fake) words of true love that morning and goes off-script to tell the crowd that he is withdrawing from the race. “I need to get out of this toxic world of politics and start to appreciate the things that really do matter in my life,” like “Amy, darling!” Amy does not come when summoned. It’s sadder than Jeb! “Please Clap” Bush.
Also, about that $20 million donation Selina got from Murman …
With all the turmoil going on, it’s now worth about $389,000. On the bright side, Selina — “truly the godmother of the Caucasian Spring” — steals Doyle’s thunder and coins the Meyer Doctrine. If nothing else, she gets a green thumbs-up from Gary.
A Few Other Things …
• Selina: “Do you have any water that doesn’t come from a nuclear power plant?”
• Selina, meeting a little Georgian girl: “Someday, you can be president!” Little girl’s dad: “NO, NOT YOU. Your brother.”
• I really hope Jonah doesn’t plan on talking about his “ghost-nard” much going forward.
• Gary, when Selina is called an “elder statesman”: “More like a jailbait statesman.”
• Jonah, on the phone: “Mom, I told you, I get more homesick when you call!”
• Murman is not interested in making Georgia more like America. “I saw your last election. No, thank you.” TOO SOON, VEEP.
• Selina to Doyle: “You have a doctrine now? What is it: Boners are rare, don’t waste them?”
• I laughed the hardest at Murman and Selina’s faux concern over AIDS — “Such a terrible killer.” “But we’re making real progress” — followed by Selina saying Danny Thomas, founder of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, had hookers shit on a glass coffee table. (“It’s an American expression.”)
• A close second was Selina talking about the residents of Georgia: “Do we really want these people to have electricity?”
Insult of the Episode
I love the heartlessness of the whole crew re: Mike not having a room. My favorite dismissal comes from Kent: “You can’t stay with me. Please don’t make me make up a reason.”
Compliment of the Episode
Catherine and Marjorie asking Dan for his sperm. I love that Dan knows immediately why they’re there and that he has zero qualms about the arrangement.
Jonah Shall Henceforth Be Known As
A sign that Jonah is at a real low point: His new colleagues don’t even care enough to make up insulting nicknames for him.